Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 13, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Beheaded American Was Arrested by Iraqis as a Spy "Because of His Jewish Name" - Toby Harnden and Marcus Warren (Telegraph-UK)
    Nicholas Berg, the American who was filmed being beheaded, had been previously arrested by Iraqi police and held on suspicion of being a spy because he had a Jewish name and an Israeli stamp in his passport.
    Berg was detained on March 24 for 13 days by Iraqi police.
    According to friends, Berg said he had been in Iraqi custody for just a few hours before being transferred to a U.S. military facility, where he was in a cell with Syrian and Iranian fighters.
    He was released after his family filed a lawsuit in the U.S. saying he was being held illegally by American forces.

    See also The Sacred Muslim Practice of Beheading - Andrew G. Bostom (FrontPageMagazine)

Syria's Uneasy Truce with Islam - Kim Ghattas (BBC News)
    Even in secular Syria, religion is becoming more important.
    More Syrians are going to the mosque, more women are wearing the hijab, and underground women's religious discussion groups are mushrooming.
    The austere Wahhabi brand of Islam practiced by Osama bin Laden is also growing more popular and clerics are calling for jihad in Iraq and Palestine.
    For now, the regime is still tolerating the growing Islamist trend in Syria as it diverts people's frustrations towards the outside world - specifically the Israelis and the Americans.

Woman Wounded in Gaza Kassam Attack (Jerusalem Post)
    A Kassam rocket fired at an Israeli town in the Gaza Strip Thursday landed between two houses, wounding one woman and causing extensive damage.

U.S. Doubts Saudi Ability to Pay for New Jets (Middle East Newsline)
    Saudi Arabia might not have enough funds or political will to sustain a multi-billion deal for new fighter jets, government sources said.
    A review by the Defense Department has warned that Riyadh could cancel any major aircraft deal and refuse to pay U.S. suppliers.
    "The Saudis have been known to stop paying suppliers in mid-stream because they've changed their minds. Such a prospect appears more likely than ever," a Pentagon source said.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. to Present Revised Program for Democracy in Mideast
    A draft of the administration's Greater Middle East Initiative began circulating among foreign ministers this week, calling for increased engagement by the West to promote democracy, women's rights, education, political reforms, free markets and investments, an independent judiciary and media, and greater efforts to crack down on corruption. President Bush plans to get some form of the document adopted at the summit meeting in June of the G-8 group of leading industrial nations. (New York Times)
  • Arab Press Coverage of Beheading Varies
    The videotaped beheading of American civilian Nicholas Berg by Islamic militants received widely divergent treatment in the Arab press on Wednesday. A Kuwaiti paper, Al Siyassah al Kuwaitia, ran a front-page story with a photograph of one of the militants holding up Mr. Berg's head. A Lebanese newspaper, As Safir, published its front-page report with a headline reading, "Zarqawi Slaughters an American to Avenge Iraqi Prisoners."
        However, a journalism expert in Cairo said concern about protecting Americans from copycat killings was the main reason for the scant coverage in the Egyptian press. "The government does not want to incite or give ideas to young or extremist people to start taking matters into their own hands," said Hussein Amin of the American University in Cairo. Some Muslim groups in Egypt expressed regret that the killing eclipsed the pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib. (New York Times)
        See also below – Global Commentary
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Five Soldiers Killed in Second Gaza Attack - Margot Dudkevitch
    Five Israeli soldiers were killed and three wounded Wednesday when an armored personnel carrier containing explosives was hit by an anti-tank rocket in the 50-meter-wide Philadelphia Corridor between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt. For the second time in as many days, Israeli soldiers searched for the remains of their fallen comrades. The soldiers were on a routine operation to detect and blow up tunnels used to smuggle weapons. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza Fighting Continues, Body Parts Returned - Arnon Regular and Yoav Stern
    Hundreds of armed Palestinians continued Wednesday to use light weapons, snipers, and anti-tank weaponry against IDF soldiers in Gaza's Zeitun neighborhood. Five armed Palestinians were killed and another 35 Palestinians were wounded. Meanwhile, Palestinians collected remains of the six Israeli soldiers killed in Zeitun Tuesday and handed them over to the IDF. Talks on handing over the body parts were conducted with the help of Egyptian representatives in the Strip. (Ha'aretz/Jerusalem Post)
  • The Problematic Timetable for Disengagement - Aluf Benn
    After the two fatal bombings in Gaza, one possible conclusion is that if you want to disengage, go all the way, like in Lebanon, with no security zone. But it is equally possible to draw the opposite conclusion: that the bombings show the dangers of disengagement. That as long as the violence continues, Israel must be in Gaza. On one hand, if we are losing, we should get out quickly. But on the other, withdrawal under fire clearly rewards terrorism and will lead to further escalation. Remaining on the Philadelphia Route is fatal. But leaving could be much worse, if it allows the Palestinians to smuggle long-range katyusha rockets into Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations – Chief of Staff: Gaza Is Not Lebanon
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Curse of Pan-Arabia - Fouad Ajami
    The logic of Abu Ghraib isn't the logic of the Iraq war. We should see through the motives of those in Cairo and Amman and Ramallah and Jeddah, now outraged by Abu Ghraib, who looked away from the terrors of Iraq under the Baathists. There are amends to be made for Abu Ghraib, and those are owed the people of Iraq. Yet here we are paying the Palestinians with Iraqi coin. Those concessions have already been taken as the compromises of an America now in the throes of self-flagellation.
        Our goals in Iraq are being diluted by the day. We haven't always read Iraq right, but if we abdicate the burden and the responsibility - and the possibilities - that came with this war, our entire effort will come to grief. We haven't stilled Iraq's furies, and our gains there have been made with heartbreaking losses. But in the midst of our anguish over Abu Ghraib, and in our eagerness to placate an Arab world that has managed to convince us of its rage over the scandal, we should stay true to what took us into Iraq, and to the gains that may yet be salvaged. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Focus on What's at Stake in Iraq - Jim Hoagland
    Make no mistake: The military and congressional investigations into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal must be pursued. They offer the best opportunity to repair America's reputation and prevent future atrocities. But this episode should not be inflated for partisan gain at home, or manipulated by those abroad who oppose the exercise of U.S. power in their precincts. To leap to the conclusion that Arab dictators have suddenly gained moral superiority over the U.S., which is no longer fit to pursue or speak about democratic change in the Middle East, is self-defeating. Those who were silent about torture in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's time should be modest about cloaking established political agendas in the name of that cause now. (Washington Post)
  • Why the West is Fighting – and Why It Must Win - Editorial
    The video of hooded and masked al-Qaeda terrorists beheading an American civilian, supposedly carried out by bin Laden's henchman Abu al-Zarqawi, has reminded Americans of why they are fighting a war against terrorism and what kind of foe they are up against. Nick Berg's decapitation cannot erase the incalculable and self-inflicted damage done by what happened in Abu Ghraib. But there are signs that it has restored a sense of proportion to the debate in Washington. The coalition cannot compromise with the foreign terrorists in Iraq such as al-Zarqawi. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Nick Berg's Murder - Editorial
    In case the world needed a reminder of why America is waging its War on Terror, it got one Tuesday. It wasn't enough that they slaughtered Nick Berg like a sheep and held his severed head aloft as if it were a trophy. No, they filmed the whole thing for the world to see. Forget Abu Ghraib. The abuse committed there by a handful of soldiers was not typical; nor is it acceptable. But the beheading of Nick Berg is par for the course for al-Qaeda. There were no known abuses at Abu Ghraib when Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and Italian hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi were murdered by Islamic terrorists, or when frenzied crowds in Fallujah burned and mutilated the bodies of four Americans and strung them from a bridge. (New York Post)
  • It's a Fight for Survival - Pull Out All Stops - Bruce Herschensohn
    Our victory in World War II was not achieved by trying to win the hearts and minds of Germans and Japanese. We did not dominate the newsreels with pictures of those things a few American troops did to captured enemies. Instead of all that, we bombed our enemies to submission with all the power and weaponry we had available. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Chief of Staff: Gaza Is Not Lebanon - Hanan Greenberg (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)

    During a visit Thursday to the site of Wednesday's fatal attack on an IDF armored personnel carrier in the Philadelphia Corridor in southern Gaza, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said:

    • "Gaza is not Lebanon....As long as there is a terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip that threatens the surrounding areas - we will act."
    • "It is clear to us that on the Egyptian side there are considerable quantities of high-quality weaponry that the Palestinians are trying to bring in. We will continue to operate in the corridor to prevent this."
    • "It is clear to me that we need to continue to fight here in every way, we have no choice."
    • "The threat here is not just against the Jewish settlements in Gaza, but also against Sderot and Ashkelon [in southern Israel]."

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